About the only Japanese golfer to qualify for the International Crown in late July to be playing really well to start the 2014 season is Rikako Morita. Not only did she win the T-Point Ladies a couple of weeks ago, she's jumped out to the 1st-round lead at the Yamaha Ladies. Her 7-birdie 66 today gave the 7-time winner on the JLPGA a 1-shot lead on Saiki Fujita and 22-year-old Risa Ogusu, a 2-shot lead on Yumiko Yoshida and last week's 1st-time winner Ayaka Watanabe, and a 3-shot lead on the likes of Bo-Mee Lee, Hyo Joo Kim, Ritsuko Ryu, Soo-Yun Kang, and Megumi Kido.
With Ji-Yai Shin, Sakura Yokomine, and Bo-Bae Song competing in the LPGA's 1st major of 2014, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the stage is set for a showdown between some of the top young Japanese players on the JLPGA, the tour's South Korean contingent (including Sun-Ju Ahn, Mi Jeong Jeon, and Young Kim, who each opened with 70s), and such established stars as Fujita, Yoshida, and Shiho Oyama (E).
With Friday's round already well underway, I'll stop here and fill you in early tomorrow morning on the action!